Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling says diversity remarks misinterpreted

​Academy Award-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling says her comments that the #OscarsSoWhite campaign is "racist to white people" were misinterpreted.

The British actress backpedals on French interview, now saying diversity is important

Charlotte Rampling, who is nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 45 Years, says her comments on diversity were 'misinterpreted.' (Andy Kropa/Invision/Associated Press)

​Academy Award-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling says her comments that the #OscarsSoWhite campaign is "racist to white people" were misinterpreted.

In a statement to CBS News' Sunday Morning on Friday, Rampling tried to clarify what she had said to a French radio station earlier that day.

"I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration. I am very honoured to be included in this year's wonderful group of nominated actors and actresses."

For the second year in a row, every Academy Award acting nominee is white, prompting people to call for a boycott of the ceremony in protest.

There are no non-white acting nominees at this year's Oscars. Left to right, top to bottom, are best actor nominees Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, and Leonardo DiCaprio; best actress nominees Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett; best supporting actor nominees Mark Rylance, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Sylvester Stallone and Mark Ruffalo; best supporting actress nominees Alicia Vikander, Rachel McAdams, Rooney Mara, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Reuters)

Speaking in French,  Rampling, 69, had previously told France's Europe 1 radio Friday that while it's impossible to know for sure, "maybe the black actors didn't deserve to be in the final stretch."

Asked about one potential solution that has not been suggested by most boycott supporters — a quota to ensure diversity among nominees — Rampling responded: "Why classify people?"

She went on to say: "These days everyone is more or less accepted. People will always say 'Him, he's less handsome. Him, he's too black. He is too white.' Someone will always be saying 'You are too …' But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?"

In her follow-up statement to CBS, she said: "Diversity in our industry is an important issue that needs to be addressed." 

When the Oscar nominations were announced Jan. 14, the lack of minorities on the list sparked a social media campaign with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and has provoked high-profile people in the business, including Jada Pinkett-Smith, her husband Will Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee to say they won't attend the upcoming show.

Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, will not attend the Academy Awards next month in protest against two straight years of all-white acting nominees. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press)

It also prompted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to announce changes to the organization this week with the goal of doubling female and diverse membership by the year 2020. The changes won't affect this year's Oscars.

Rampling, who is revered in France and has starred in both French and English films, is nominated for best actress at this year's Oscars for her role in 45 Years, a movie that depicts a couple whose long marriage begins to shatter after a life-changing event.

Ironically, Rampling has been known for shunning Hollywood most of her career, living in France and often waiting for roles to come to her rather than the other way around, according to her interview with CBS Sunday Morning airing this weekend.

After her initial radio interview, many people slammed her comments on social media, including Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

British actor Michael Caine was also asked about the diversity controversy this week by the BBC and urged black actors to "be patient," saying recognition would come. He praised Idris Elba's "wonderful" work in Beasts of No Nation, which did not receive an Oscar nod.

"Of course it will come," he said. "It took me years to get an Oscar, years."

About the Author

Zulekha Nathoo

Digital/Broadcast reporter, L.A.

Zulekha Nathoo is a breaking news and entertainment reporter based in Los Angeles. From the Oscars to the Grammys, she's interviewed some of the biggest names in showbiz including Celine Dion and Denzel Washington. She also works on-air covering news events and spent more than a decade at CBC stations across Canada, including Toronto and Calgary. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @zulekhanathoo.

With files from The Associated Press


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